Every relationship is different, but you might be surprised to learn what they all have in common. After feeling chemistry spark between you and your current love interest, you can use the eight typical phases of a relationship to tell how you’re doing.
Mapping out your love life might not sound romantic, but it’s helpful to know if it’s heading downhill or coasting steadily along. Use these eight phases to get through the rocky patches or learn when it’s time to let go:
Maybe you scroll through your favorite dating app late one night or someone introduces you to their friend. Something about this new person catches your eye. You exchange numbers and meet up a few times. As you get to know each other, you wonder when you’ll see them again.
After a while, you feel like you know your love interest pretty well. They’ve captured your heart and mind with their personality and dreams. Everything seems to point toward them — like the universe itself says they’re the one and you should make things more serious.
Don’t be afraid of commitment! Becoming exclusive opens the door to new levels of emotional intimacy. Most people find this point to be where things become more romantic and fulfilling.
There’s no determined length for the honeymoon phase. Some couples experience it for a few weeks, while others make it last for years. It’s when you feel like you’re floating every time they say, “I love you.” When you learn something new and endearing, your love grows to encapsulate that part of your partner’s personality too.
Sometimes this phase feels like it ends with your first argument or even a small disagreement.
Once you know you’re in a good relationship, think about the next phase. After getting to know each other and dreaming about the future, it’s time to form routines. Some people might make fun of routines as the end of true romance, but that’s not always true.
Routines reaffirm your commitment to each other and create a happy blend of your lives. You’ll test out what life will be like in the next stage if you move in together.
The future looks bright and your love life is even brighter. Living together is one of the most exciting phases of a relationship. It makes finances easier and your days more fun, but it also introduces you to a new side of your relationship. You’ve been acquaintances and partners, but now, you’re roommates.
After you unpack the last of your boxes, you might experience new relationship problems that didn’t exist before. Anyone can overcome this stage with time and understanding. Talk with your partner about your disagreements and learn their communication style so you’re always on the same page.
It could take a few months to work out existing roommate issues. By that point, you’ll be in a new normal. Reflect on how things have progressed since you started going out. Is the spark still there? Does your partner support your dreams and encourage your passions?
No relationship is perfect all the time, so don’t force your partner to chase that impossible expectation. As long as you continue your personal growth alongside your love interest, you’re likely in a healthy, happy place.
You’ve just celebrated your six-month or one-year anniversary. Do you enjoy where your relationship has taken you? Do you look forward to where it’s going?
When you begin to think critically about your relationship, consider if you’ve formed toxic thought patterns or hold onto any simmering resentments. If you can point out multiple ways you’re unhappy or unfulfilled, you might have one stage to go.
After contemplating how things are going in your relationship, you’ll reach the working-it-out stage. You can decide to talk with your partner and solve your relationship problems, which can take time. Hold onto your patience and remember what you’re working toward so you never forget why your efforts matter.
You might also decide to go separate ways. If you or your partner don’t want to address problems or don’t think you can fix them, it’s time to work out how you’ll split up. Talk about who keeps your living space and how there will be custody arrangements for kids or pets.
Neither of these solutions is easy, but they’re necessary if you care about yourself and your partner.
These eight typical phases of a relationship don’t happen in chronological order. Watch for cyclical patterns so you always know where you stand. You might go through a honeymoon stage and then need to break up, or you could find a lasting love that needs fine-tuning every once in a while.
With time, patience and dedication, you and your partner can make it through every relationship phase and nurture a lasting love life.